Addressing the defense of religious freedom at the 2019 Western Conservative Summit in Colorado.
Editors’ note: Former Sen. John Andrews launched the annual Western Conservative Summit for Colorado Christian University in 2010 and chaired it for the next five years. Over 2,000 delegates from Colorado and across the country attended this year. As Sen. Andrews noted at BackboneAmerica.com: “It was my honor on Friday evening, July 12, to address the Western Conservative Summit in Denver, the tenth renewal of what has become the largest annual rally on the right outside Washington DC. In terms of the gravity of the subject matter, I regard this as the most important speech I’ve ever given in fifty years in public life. My prepared remarks were as follows.”
I love the Summit theme for 2019: “Defending Religious Freedom and America’s First Amendment.”
It challenges us to begin at the very beginning and realize that unless America is a nation under God, we’re not a nation at all.
Unless every American is free to honor God as conscience may guide— and to obey God in the public square as long as no one else is harmed—unless we are free in that precious way, we’re not free at all
Someone may say, Wait a minute, you’re going too far. What about political freedom? What about economic freedom? Even without religious freedom, you still have those.
No, you don’t. Not really. If government can dictate your belief system, with earthly rulers standing between you and your Creator, government owns you.
If Caesar can enslave your soul, the enslavement of your body and the confiscation of your belongings are just a matter of time.
Political freedom and economic freedom are a mere illusion if government can dictate your belief system.
Because when thought control takes over, there is nothing to stop the government from expanding all its other forms of control more and more—always for your own good, of course—until the government becomes God.
At which point your humanity has been cancelled. You’re left with the brutish existence of those barnyard animals in Orwell’s Animal Farm—tyrannized over by swine.
There’s a reason the First Amendment is first in our Constitution’s magnificent Bill of Rights.
To choose one’s own belief system and to live accordingly, so long as no one else is harmed, is the very essence of liberty and limited government. Nothing matters more.
Revelation and Victimization
In the American experience, two and a half centuries and counting, threats to religious freedom have taken two forms—revelation in the earlier period—and victimization today.
By revelation I mean the command from above, the claim that one group has a pipeline to God and other groups don’t.
After Europe’s horrific religious wars, our Founders wisely made government stand back and stay neutral between those competing claims of revelation. Overall that has worked well.
But now in the 21st century we are engulfed in the culture of victimization—the wound from within—the tyranny of hurt feelings, the vengeful claims of group injustices and group paybacks, the identity grievance blame game.
Anyone’s wound from within now matters more than anyone else’s command from above. So we’re told.
** If an order of nuns disagrees with those to whom abortion has become a virtual sacrament, haul them into court.
** If the cross on a roadside war memorial offends a passing atheist, have it bulldozed.
Fortunately, so far, our courts have invoked the First Amendment to protect those nuns — that cross.
But the identity grievances keep multiplying. The floodtide of victimization keeps rising. How long will the dike hold?
Supreme Court appointments matter. Elections matter. The culture matters. Moral and spiritual renewal matters—one family, one church, one community at a time.
We need to help our non-religious neighbors wake up and see that the tyrannous temptation of thought control will eventually endanger them—as much as it endangers any Christian or Jew or Hindu or Buddhist.
That’s what freedom of religion, freedom of belief, freedom of conscience actually means.
What Freedom of Religion is Not
Now let’s talk about what freedom of religion does NOT mean. I will speak with tough love. From the heart. With no animosity or ill will toward any person. Please hear me carefully.
Suppose somebody originated a belief system that claimed exclusive right to revelation, the command from above—and harnessed that aggressive claim to a burning sense of victimization, the wound from within. What a loose cannon that would be.
Suppose its claim of revelation included a totalitarian political and economic system, not subject to reformation, set forth in a holy book not subject to revision.
Suppose its legal scholars and clergy insisted the day is coming when that book must govern all mankind, on penalty of death to whoever would refuse to submit.
Suppose finally that this belief system had been around for over a thousand years— deepening its victim complex, its rage — reinforcing its unbending absolutism and its dreams of global conquest— until today it commands the allegiance of a quarter of the earth’s population on every part of the earth’s surface.
I’m talking about the belief system called Islam.
Submit or Die
It’s true we all know Muslims who are likable neighbors or capable co-workers. Decent patriotic Americans who humbly love Allah. That’s not what I’m talking about.
I’m talking about this absolutist totalitarian worldview and political doctrine that demands everyone, everyone, you and me included, ultimately submit or die.
So here’s the hard question for all of us as freedom-loving Americans. Put it in terms of that bumper sticker, the one that says “Coexist.”
How can aggressive dominant Islam and its supreme law, Sharia, coexist with friendly tolerant America and its supreme law, the Constitution? I don’t honestly see how it can.
I don’t claim to know the way forward in this tremendous, tragic clash of civilizations.
But I do know this: The simplistic approach of just granting unconditional quote/unquote freedom of religion to a religion that doesn’t believe in freedom—and have no doubt, Islam does not—that approach is civilizational suicide.
Sharia vs. the Constitution
Don’t take it from me. Read the Muslim Brotherhood’s takeover plan for an Islamic USA, already 50 years along, established as evidence in the Holy Land Foundation trial.
The shockingly well-connected Brotherhood and its lying propaganda arm, CAIR, are waging civilizational jihad to take us down from within by our own good-hearted impulse to live and let live, our own sense of fair play.
The answer is not a witch hunt. Not persecution. Not some kind of ban. Not interfering with anyone’s belief system—provided it doesn’t interfere with ours.
But the answer is certainly not to just keep doing what we’re doing—that’s a formula for defeat. There’s a better way, there has to be. As Justice Robert Jackson famously said, “The Constitution is not a suicide pact.”
If we in this generation don’t rouse ourselves and defeat the Muslim Brotherhood, our children’s generation will be worse off than Europe is today—and I don’t even want to think about our grandchildren’s generation.
I’m sure some of you will disagree with me. So will some other speakers this weekend. They will tell you that a good and faithful Muslim can also be a good and faithful American.
Sorry, but I don’t see how. Not when one holds Sharia law supreme, the Koran, the command from above—and the other holds the Constitution supreme. Something has to give.
We can all look back across the ten years of summits and recognize some changes in ourselves. For me, I didn’t realize then what has become chillingly clear to me now.
America is in a war, a war to the death—and it’s not going well.
It’s largely a war of ideas right now, not violent, at least not yet. Other than the occasional Antifa riot or jihadi massacre, the conflict so far is a battle for hearts and minds.
We can only win that battle if we summon the courage to name our enemies—two of them. The name of one is Marx. The name of the other is Mohammed.
Ideology of Perpetual War
Maybe their intentions were good. Who knows? But their legacy is not good. It’s a legacy of righteous ruthless violence, justified by an ideology of perpetual war.
** For the forces of Marx, that means a war of the oppressed against the oppressors, defined by the victim status of their identity or class.
** For the forces of Mohammed, that means a war of the believers against the infidels, demanding that everyone on earth must eventually either submit to Sharia law or die.
Does it give you a chill to hear me indict Mohammed for a millennium of immiseration, oppression, brutality, and slaughter? Do you worry for my safety, blaspheming the Prophet this way?
I thank you for your concern, but you just proved my point. No one in the USA should have to fear violent reprisals for voicing his belief system. That’s why we have a First Amendment.
We Don’t Bow to That
So I ask you to join me in naming our enemies. Their followers will howl with indignation, but secretly they will respect us more.
We Americans, the land of the free, have already been targeted as their enemies, after all. When we drop the pretense and get real, we merely return the compliment.
Join me in calling these deadly ideologies what they are, every time their victim rhetoric raises its hateful head.
“That’s Marx talking,” we should say. Or—“That’s Mohammed talking.”
Speak out and say, “We don’t buy that. We don’t bow to that. We don’t compromise with that. We don’t split the difference with that. We don’t make concessions to that.”
We don’t use that guilt-tripping vocabulary. So-called political correctness is Marxist brainwashing. We scorn it.
We don’t accept that accusatory premise, that lie. So-called Islamophobia is Mohammed’s intellectual bullying, emotional blackmail to silence us. We spurn it.
They Hate Religious Freedom
Again, don’t take my word for it. Read the work of David Horowitz—Frank Gaffney—John Guandolo. The work of Robert Spencer or Pamela Geller. All good friends of CCU.
Do a web search for Ami Horowitz and his devastating new video about the Muslim Brotherhood.
Or simply look at a map of the world and notice which countries have the least religious freedom.
It’s countries that follow Marx, such as China and North Korea and Cuba and Venezuela.
Or countries that follow Mohammed, such as Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, Egypt or Turkey.
The more that Marx’s ideas and Mohammed’s ideas take hold here, the more our religious freedom is endangered.
Those ideas simply do not mix with the ideas of Jefferson and Adams and Lincoln. It’s oil and water. There’s no meeting each other halfway.
** The forces of Marx want to make the government everyone’s God.
** The forces of Mohammed want to make their God everyone’s government.
Neither is in any way acceptable to the American way of life.
We Can Defeat Them
Can we meet and defeat the existential threat they pose to this sweet land of liberty? Absolutely we can.
It has only been our softness, our sentimentality, our self-absorption that ever allowed them to make the inroads they have.
It’s time to rise up and say enough of that lethargy. It’s time to rally to the flag whether Nike and Kaepernick like it not.
Let the rebirth begin right here, right now, at Western Conservative Summit 2019. I couldn’t be more proud to be standing alongside each and every one of you in this fight.
God bless you, and God bless the United States of America.